Variation in immigrants’ level of education
Education;Immigration and immigrants
utniv, Educational attainment of the population, educational attainment (primary and lower secondary school, upper secondary school), university college/university), educationLevel of education, Education, Immigration and immigrants, Education

Educational attainment of the population1 October 2011



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Variation in immigrants’ level of education

Many immigrants in Norway are highly educated, but there are also some groups of immigrants with no completed education. A larger proportion of immigrants than the rest of the population have a tertiary education.

In the register of the population's highest level of education, there are roughly 51 000 immigrants with a long tertiary education. This is 13 per cent of those for whom we have received information concerning their level of education. The corresponding proportion for the entire population is 7 per cent. Long tertiary education has a duration of more than 4 years, and also covers research education. Immigrants from France and the Ukraine have the largest proportion with a long tertiary education; 46 and 37 per cent respectively.

Short tertiary education comprises higher education with a duration of up to 4 years. About 23 per cent of immigrants have completed an education at this level. In the total population, nearly 22 per cent have a short tertiary education.

Since the last publication, the basis for statistics on the population’s level of education has been updated with data from a survey on education gained in countries other than Norway. This has led to a decrease in the number of persons with unknown education. This survey has enabled Statistics Norway to correct previously published statistics dating back to 2000.

Immigrants from Slovakia with highest proportion of upper secondary education

Three out of five immigrants from Slovakia have attained upper secondary education as their highest level of education, and almost half of the Poles. Among our Nordic neighbours, the immigration is dominated by persons with upper secondary education as the highest level of education. Almost 14 per cent of the Swedish immigrants have a long higher education, while 41 per cent had attained an upper secondary education.

We find the largest proportion of immigrants with no completed education among Afghans and Somalis; just above 12 per cent and almost 11 per cent respectively. The corresponding figure for immigrants as a whole was only 2.2 per cent.

Almost three out of ten have tertiary education

Of the population in Norway aged 16 years and over, about 29 per cent have a tertiary education. Since 2000, the proportion of people with a tertiary education has increased by 7 percentage points. During the same period, the proportion with less than upper secondary education decreased by 5 percentage points, to 29 per cent.

High level of education in Norway and Finland

The OECD’s publication Education at a Glance 2011 provides inter alia indicators on level of educational attainment. In 2009, 37 per cent of the Norwegian population aged 25 to 64 years had attained a tertiary education. Among our Nordic neighbours, 37 per cent of the Finnish population in this age group also obtained a tertiary education. The average among OECD countries was 30 per cent.